HOUMA, La. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Houma's Southland Mall says a new apparel store for women will be the seventh new store opening at the mall in the last year and a half.

Mall General manager Dawn Becker says the growth is encouraging. Becker tells The Courier newspaper (http://bit.ly/JJI0TM ) that sales have increased at the mall for the past three or four years, but national chains have been reluctant to expand because of the economy.

Becker said there are about 80 stores and five vacancies in the mall.